Story from the Boston Globe, by Linda K. Wertheimer,October 1, 2019, 8:10 a.m.
Civics education in public schools has been on the wane for decades, and it shows. Here’s how Massachusetts is making it matter again.
It’s early September at Newton’s Bigelow Middle School, and a class of eighth-graders watch as the teacher sticks a blue slip of paper on a bulletin board. On the paper is the word “democracy.” The teacher, Andrew Swan, turns to them and asks, “What’s the opposite of democracy? What does it look like?”
The students stare at him — their silence gets awkward. A girl finally raises her hand and says: “Republican.” Swan shakes his head, and the girl and some classmates break into giggles. Swan smiles gently. He asks “What are you thinking of? Political parties?” The girl nods.
“This is democracy with a lowercase d,” Swan explains, in a classroom with posters on the back wall headlined “Periodic Table of the Constitution” and “Periodic Table of the Amendments.” It’s early in the semester, and there is a lot of ground to cover.